A Guide to ‘Extreme Nesting’

[Image - Ryan McGuire]
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Have you recently found your partner impossible to separate from her marigolds, often to be found clutching a duster? It must be the nesting instinct!

As your partner nears the end of her pregnancy, she might be cleaning, organising and tidying at every opportunity. If you’re wondering how she can find the energy with a bump bigger than a record-breaking watermelon (and indeed, she may pass out on the sofa by 7pm), recent research shows it’s actually very common!

Sterilising brand Milton found that 97% of mums-to-be experience the ‘nesting urge’, whilst ‘Extreme Nesting’ behaviours such as re-decorating, renovating and even moving house were discovered in over a third of the women asked.

“Out of the 30,000 mums who took part, nearly 70% felt the urge to nest during their third trimester and around the same number gave birth within 6 weeks of experiencing this feeling.” 

So, if your partner is nesting, make sure you’re prepared for the big day!

Extreme Nesters – constant and repetitive cleaning

Cleaning was top of the task list for nesting mums with 83% admitting that they cleaned frequently from the reasonable several times a week and slightly obsessive several times a day, to the simply bonkers several times an hour. Almost half (42.5%) of pregnant women also admitted to extreme cleaning which included disinfecting and bleaching windowsills, radiators, ceilings and door handles.

For those with partners cleaning more normal amounts, doing a deep clean just before the baby comes is actually a pretty practical idea. Especially as once your baby arrives, you’re likely to fall behind with the housework. It’s best to start off with a clean house and make a habit of smaller cleaning tasks in the early weeks, making sure your partner avoids any harsh chemicals.

Organising and re-organising

Two of the most common activities during the nesting period includes re-organising cupboards and shelves and sorting babies clothing over and over again by size and type. This is something that you should definitely get involved in!

If your partner has to stay in the hospital longer than anticipated, or leaves you with a crying newborn to go for a much-needed nap, then you’ll be required to navigate through piles of baby stuff to find what you need. If you’ve been involved in setting up a clear system, it will be much easier to grab emergency scratch mitts or find a clean dummy.

Once again it seems that some mums go to extreme lengths, with half saying they threw out perfectly good towels, sheets and clothes, just to buy in new ones – not something we’d recommend! 1 in 10 mums even admitted to ripping up and replacing carpets, as well as regularly mowing the lawn (6%)!

Your role as an expectant dad

“Nesting is an inbuilt need to protect and prepare for the arrival of a new baby and helps to get the home ready for your baby before life becomes too hectic.” 
Katie Hilton – Midwife and Health Visitor 

If your partner is doing some serious nesting, remind her to be careful – she will really regret putting her back out just before labour; or if she is balancing precariously on a chair trying to change a lightbulb, it isn’t safe, so make sure you take over!

Nesting isn’t just exclusive to mums either, with dads having their own unique set of tendencies. Many find themselves cancelling trips away and experiencing a pull towards being at home and around their partner – very useful when she’s nearing labour.

Lots of dads also focus on providing safety and stability in their ‘nesting’, so obsessing over buying the perfect family car, making and saving money and ensuring their house is completely safe. If you find yourself regularly checking the fire alarm, now you know why!

Money (not sex) on the mind

Nesting also leaves little room for romance with 48% women admitting that their sex drive decreased during the nesting period. However, it’s natural for women to focus their energy on preparing at this stage. With ligament pain, increased sensitivity, Braxton Hicks, breathlessness and intense pressure from the baby’s head, there could be any number of reasons for your partner not quite being in the mood.

With the pending arrival of their first baby, the majority of first-time mums (81%) spent anywhere between £500 and £3,000. A stark contrast to their second child, where most only spent £500 of less, probably by being savvier about what they actually need and reusing some of what they bought for their first child. So dads, it might be a good idea to have a look through those long lists of products your partner has been making and help decide if you really need everything on it.

Recent studies have shown that mums’ brains psychically change during pregnancy, particularly the centre of memory and the neurons which relate to maternal behaviour. These changes support the fact that it’s a completely natural thing to want to feel ready for a new and vulnerable person coming into your lives, and both mums and dads are likely to feel the desire to create a safe and warm space for their child.

Bottom-line, if your partner is nesting, there may be no stopping her. The best way of keeping her safe and helping out, might just be joining in!